National Grid ESO publishes 2020/21 Winter Outlook Report

The Winter Outlook Report provides National Grid ESO's view of electricity supply and demand for the coming winter. 

Head of National Control Roisin Quinn sets out the projections of this year’s report for the coming winter months.

Each year we publish the Winter Outlook to set out the operational challenges we expect to manage over the winter period.

These are generally different to how we operate the network at other points of the year, as the nights get longer, and days get colder it becomes increasingly important to effectively manage the electricity network as electricity demand increases for heating and lighting purposes. 

As we’ve experienced throughout this year COVID-19 has brought new challenges to operating the network. Alongside this we also have the UK’s full exit from the European Union as the transition period comes to an end on 31 December. 

Responding to COVID-19 

Similar to this Summer we face a greater level of uncertainty as we head into the Winter, as a recent growth of infection levels has made a second lockdown a greater possibility. 

To ensure that the electricity sector has the best available information to plan for the coming months we are today publishing a range of potential scenarios for this winter to reflect this uncertainty. Under each scenario we expect to be able to maintain security of supply. We will continue to separately produce frequent forecasts of the costs associated with network operation this winter through our BSUoS forecasts, and to provide updates of operational challenges to the industry through our weekly Operational Transparency Forum.

The end of the Transition period  

Whilst trade negotiations to determine our future relationship with the EU are still ongoing, the UK is set to leave the transition period on Thursday 31 December. As a prudent system operator, we have put in place various contingency measures to ensure that we are prepared for both a deal and no deal scenario. As part of our winter analysis we expect that the cross-border trade of electricity with EU countries via our interconnectors to France, Belgium and the Netherlands will continue uninterrupted. Depending on the outcome of trade negotiations there is a possibility that this cross-border trade may have to use a slightly different mechanism. 

Margins on the electricity system will vary through the winter – driven by many factors including  generator outages, demand levels and renewable output levels. Overall we expect that margins will remain within the reliability standard for safely and securely operating the system.

You can read the Winter Outlook report in full here